We were encouraged Thursday to receive news from U.S. Senator Jerry Moran concerning his continued work to improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps. The Kansas Republican is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He joins senators from both parties in urging the Federal Communications Commission to take specific, concrete steps to improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps.
“Precise, granular, and accurate data is essential to determining which parts of the country remain unserved and where to more efficiently target broadband deployment funding,” the senators wrote. “Improved data is essential for Congress and the Commission to identify where adequate broadband service is and is not, and how to avoid subsidizing overbuilding of existing networks.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai understands what’s a stake. In an interview last year with CNET, Pai said, “I see it is an echo of the rural electrification efforts we saw in the 1930s, almost 100 years ago.”
This bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2019 (BDIA) in May. Some call it the “Improving Broadband Mapping Act of 2019.”
Better mapping data will enable federal agencies to target funding to the areas that need it the most, close the remaining coverage gaps and ensure accountability and transparency, Moran stated. Chairman Pai and other FCC commissioners discussed this legislation and other efforts to improve federal broadband coverage mapping at a June Commerce Committee hearing. Separately, Sen. Moran also cosponsored the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which also aims to improve the accuracy of the broadband availability maps by strengthening the process by which data is collected.
Improving internet access across America is a worthy goal and should be pursued. Problems with rural broadband coverage have been an issue in Congress for more than a decade, but what hasn’t? As Washington looks for a bipartisan agreement on improving the nation’s infrastructure, the digital information superhighway should not be ignored.